I don’t think I ever really understood the true meaning of Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It” until I ran a marathon.
I grew up being very active. I was a swimmer in college and in high school I was always swimming, going to gymnastics or jumproping. (Yes, jumproping for about 10 years. I know, I’m weird, but I loved it. See here for more information.) I excersized my heart out the many years of my youth, but the marathon. Well, it’s just a different ball game.
When I was a kid, I would have 2 hour work outs. I’d get my butt whooped in those hours by my fantastic coaches, but then I’d be done. I was fit as a fiddle and happy that my 2 hour practice were done. I honestly never liked practicing, but I loved, LOVED the meets, games, competitions etc. THAT was my lifeblood of sport.
Fast forward many years and an excessive amount of pounds later.
After watching my brother and sister-in-law complete an Ironman, and listening to Kyle talk about his quest to run a marathon, my interest was piqued. “I could do this” I thought. “I’m still decently active, and Colin claims that I ‘have it in my genes.’” So why not? Let’s give it a go.
Let me just start off by saying that I still hate practicing- anything. I am especially not a fan of training for marathons. It is LONG and, well, LONG. It is certainty a “time-suck” but I guess at least it’s a healthy one. I now have new-found knowledge of my neighborhood and the neighborhoods around me. I know how far a mile is from almost every direction out of my house, and two, and three.
But the race. My LIFEBLOOD. If you have seen my pictures on Faceb@@k, you can see how much fun I had. Up to the marathon day the farthest I had run was only 16 miles (was informed by training plans and my “coach brother” that I don’t want to injure myself so keep the highest run at 16.) So, understandably, I was quite freaked out that I had to run 10 miles further on race day than I had ever ran. Daunting.
But people, it was fun. Fun!
Maybe it was the perfect running weather, or the first five miles I got to run with my husband, or the endless stream of adrenaline coursing through my body, or the excitement at the starting line, or the fabulous course that was set right along Lake Superior that felt like it had no hills. Or maybe it was just me, loving the possibility of actually finishing a marathon. Something I never in my lifetime imagined I would do.
The start line really was a kick. We were all bussed 26.2 miles away from Duluth so there was a lot of opportunity on the 45 minute bus ride to think about this crazy thing we were all about to partake in. When we got off the bus the excitement started to spread. Music was blaring, there were thousands of people all over the place and you could feel the energy in the air. (And truthfully, you could also feel a little bit of fear too. And if you looked into peoples faces, it was obviously not an uncommon emotion.) When we dropped our gear bags and headed for our place in the starting line the task ahead started to set in, but for some reason in that moment, it seemed do-able.
My first 5 miles were so nice. Running with Kyle was a joy for me (and I HATE running with people). At 5 miles I told him that I wanted him to go faster, because I knew he could, and that he wanted to. Like I said the weather was perfect. Misty and a cool 55 degrees. Many people who were wearing long sleeved shirts shed them in the first few miles once they got in the rhythm of the run. I kept mine on, since all in all I felt real good.
Once Kyle left I gleamed on with the 5 hour pacer. I didn’t think I’d actually keep it up but I thought it would be a good way to know how I was doing. I kept up with that group for many miles. Listening to my music, listening to conversations around me, and enjoying the many water stops along the route (Coach Colin told me to have the Power aid at every stop, so that’s what I did).
At mile ten my left IT band began to hurt, and then at mile 13 my right one was feeling pain. I had gone to some physical therapy just a few months earlier for this issue so I had been working on making it better. In the back of my mind I knew that they would likely both give out on me, but I had hoped it would be later in the race. Thankfully, since I had been stretching them and strengthening them, when they did start to hurt they weren’t debilitating. (As it had been in the past.) I could still jog on them as long as I was conscious of where I was on the road. So I “just kept swimming”.
At mile 18 they really did start to hurt so that’s when I lost track of the 5 hour pacer (did under a 2:30 half marathon though! Made me very happy!) and decided that I was going to start having some serious fun. I would walk/jog the rest of the way and really enjoy this race. Around that moment was when we started to get into town with lots of people. Encouragement! Yea!
I was also getting quite sick of the power aid and the energy jellybeans I had. So at mile 20 I had a shot of beer that some spectators gave out. Believe it or not that gave me a nice burst of energy! For serious runners though, I wouldn’t advise it.
The last 6 miles were painful, but ridiculously fun. People were out (in the pouring rain to cheer us on!) The town was hopping, and the knowledge that the finish line was just a few miles away was exhilarating. Although my knees/IT bands were in pain, I jogged and walked with a smile on my face. I was really “Just Doing It”.
Right before the finish line I saw a couple friends cheer me on. Then another 50 feet later I saw Kyle, Sandy and the kids where I just about cried and gave them hugs. In those moments I was so proud to see that my husband achieved his goal of running a marathon, and he was ready to see me do the same thing. With a proud look on his face he said to me, “Now go finish!”
So I did.
And what a trip it was. Marathons are a very long journey, but they can be so much fun if that’s what you want. I learned a lot, like how beer CAN taste good near the end of the race, and blueberry bagels taste even better after. That seeing your family on the race course is the what pure joy feels like, and that having a good attitude is the most important thing to have out there. That training is incredibly important, and hard, but worth the end result. And, most notably, that I CAN “Just Do It.”
Will I do it again? I don’t know. Maybe. But the lessons I learned from working towards that end goal were worth every bit of pain I endured (and if you saw me right after you would know it was a lot!)
Yes, It was fun. Maybe a little too much fun…